Virgin Galactic took a step closer to completing development of its space tourism system on Saturday.
Virgin Galactic took a step closer to completing development of its space tourism system on Saturday, successfully launching its first spaceflight in over two years.
The company’s spacecraft, named VSS Unity, achieved an altitude of about 44,000 feet aboard a carrier aircraft called VMS Eve before it was released and accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound.
After executing a backflip in microgravity at the edge of space—reaching an altitude of 89.2 kilometers, or about 293,000 feet—Unity glided back through the atmosphere. The spacecraft landed back at the runway of Spaceport America in New Mexico where it began the journey.
The pilots C.J. Sturckow and Dave Mackay flew the craft and will be given astronaut wings as a result of the launch.
The U.S. officially considers pilots who have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts.